An old airplane hangar got a rare chance to taxi down the runway Thursday morning. In its 90 years of existence, this landmark of aviation at the Bert Mooney Airport in Butte has been a part of many historical moments. Airport officials plan to turn the aging structure into a museum-flight lounge for pilots. Built in 1921, it was one of the first hangars at the airfield. It has provided shelter for thousands of aircraft for almost a century. One of the hangar’s most famous guests was legendary aviator Charles Lindbergh. Lindbergh stored his famous plane, The Spirit of St. Louis, in that hangar when he stopped to visit the Mining City in September 1927. Lindbergh became a national hero in May of that same year when he made the first trans-Atlantic flight from New York to Paris in the Spirit of St. Louis. Airport manager Pat Shea keeps a picture in his office of “Lindy’s” airplane parked in the old hangar with “Butte National Airport” written above the hangar opening. He said he’s proud to convert the old hangar. “It’s a labor of love,” Shea said. The airport plans to name it the Lindbergh Hangar in memory of Dave Gates. Gates, who was the airport board chairman, was killed in a plane crash west of Butte in March 2011. Shea said there also will be a memorial at the hangar in honor of Butte flight instructor Dick Johnson, who also died in a tragic plane crash in August of 2011. The plan is to make the hangar a respite place for pilots who get stranded due to bad weather or mechanical issues. The remodeling of the hangar will depend on donations and volunteer work, so Shea isn’t certain when the project will be completed. Workers took the first step Thursday by moving the hangar to the southern end of the airport. Tamietti House Moving used a large rig to carefully tow the hangar down the runway to its new location. The weather-beaten metal structure is spotted with rust and faded paint. “It’s still structurally sound,” Shea said. Lindbergh’s visit to Butte on Sept. 5, 1927, caused much excitement in the city, according to newspaper reports at the time. The Butte Miner reported that the pilot’s arrival caused a “stampede” from the crowd of nearly 40,000 excited to get a closer look at Lindy and his famous aircraft. Later that day, he addressed a large crowd of at Clark Park. Lindbergh was invited to stop in Butte by his friend, J.D. Ryan, who was then chairman of the Anaconda Co. Lindbergh had flown to Butte from Boise, Idaho, in the “Spirit” plane — about a three and one-half hour trip.5179f0e768c26_preview-620 5179f1460d245_preview-620

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